Tag Archives: Challenge

Listless Listing

I found myself having to read my own blog post yesterday. I set challenges for myself in 2015, but I feel as if I’ve been drifting for awhile. Since January, I’ve made a list for myself each week of things I wanted to accomplish, like responding to a friend’s letter, clean the bathroom, etc. On each list has been poem drafts and submissions. It wasn’t until today that was able to check off the submission box. Not once have been able to check off every item on my list by the end of the week.

This is one of those rabbit-hole-warning-signs I need to be conscious of. My productivity slows, its always the first thing to go before I fall into a depressive episode. It doesn’t help that my friends are doing so professionally well. I have to admit I’m jealous, but the thing is, how often do we get jealous of something and still sit back and dwell in it rather than doing something about it, so we can feel better, at least feel as if we tried? Every day I tell myself, do something, write something, say something, try something. This week is the first in awhile when I actually have.

People have called me a force to be reckoned with. It’s a weird label to have, because you begin to believe that you are at once formidable and vulnerable. How do you keep the momentum of the force? What happens when you slow down? That slowing quickly drives you far lower than usual because you realize that you are suddenly not at all what people believed you to be. I have to constantly remind myself that I always have the potential to be that person, that it is always in me to be that force, but that I need to DO SOMETHING in order to earn it.

So I list. I make lists because they keep me on track. I keep lists because my fibromyalgia can render me utterly useless at times, but there is always something small I can do that will still make a difference and I need to remember that. I make lists so I can remember what I need to do, because my fibromyalgia will also cause me to forget or even not see what needs to be done. I make lists so that I can feel accomplished no matter how little I do. I make lists because they haunt me into action.

This post, this general, freeform post, was on my list for at least three weeks. Now I can check this one off too.

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Yoga Challenge: The Make-up Days

Pose of the Day: Tree pose

Last week, man, I just fizzled out. What a horrible way to “finish” a challenge I felt I’d so successful at. I was… I don’t even know what I was. Fibromyalgia-y. In the midst of a flare, you’re picking and choosing what you can and can’t do, and your body whittles down that list even more until you find that biggest accomplishment of the day was brushing your hair. I slept a lot. A lot. I slept for twelve hours one night, took naps almost three hours long, couldn’t move much, felt nauseated, barely ate or ate too much. No yoga for a whole week. And I felt awful without it.

I’ve come to look forward to the evenings I practice yoga. I make tea, set up my mat, listen to some smooth music that helps me relax, do my 15-20 minutes, and then lay in bed to watch tv, or read, or even just something like a blog post or a to do list. I wouldn’t say yoga has made me more focused, necessarily, but it’s given me a sort of routine in the evenings that I looked forward to, and I felt like I was accomplishing something. Even if my body still has some rolls that I thought would be–at the very least–more subtle than when I started, and even if I’m still wearing the same size I was wearing at the beginning of the challenge, I still felt change. To not have that, even for a week, especially for a whole week, I really felt like I lost something. It was partly guilt over my challenge, but, like I said, it was something I looked forward to.

I felt better last night, and got right back into it. Twenty minutes, good music, every move felt amazing. I realized that, after a whole month, I can actually touch my heels to the floor in Downward Dog now! It’s an amazing feeling to realize that your muscles have extended themselves to make new things possible within the confines of your body. I also got back into drinking plenty water. I had a superbad sick day on Sunday, replete with vomiting, body aches, fever, general grossness. And all I wanted was water. (Mainly, it was most of what of what I was able to consume without throwing up.) I’ve noticed that I am hyperaware of when my body starts needing water now. Before I know it, I’ll have drunk a full water bottle. It turns out I can curb many headaches by doing this. I’ve had far fewer (as in, not every single day) headaches since hydrating.

I could say that yesterday and today were my new Days 29 & 30, but it just doesn’t feel right. I feel like I’m not finished. And to be honest, I’m not sure I want to be finished. It seems to me that that would give me the perfect excuse not to keep going with it. Yoga’s become one of those friends I have to check in with several times a week just to make sure that everything’s okay, it’s not in my head, that it’s real, that it’s something I still look forward to and don’t feel as happy without.

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Yoga Challenge: Days 26-29

Pose of the Day: Cobra

I really didn’t anticipate feeling this miserable at the end of my challenge. After taking those days off last week, I was determined to do at least something yoga-ish. Friday I made my post while resting my legs up against the wall, otherwise known as Legs Up the Wall pose. It worked, I got my time in. Saturday I felt like death after over-exerting myself for a family day out, so I did ten minutes of Savasana before bed. It was basically like falling asleep on the floor or couch and then moving into the bed. Sunday I was feeling really good; a new episode of The Walking Dead was coming, I had pizza rolls at the ready, all in all it was a great day. I did about twenty minutes because all the stretching felt so good.

And then I woke up yesterday.

Whether from stretching a bit too far during my Sunday workout or from sleeping on the couch in the we hours of Monday morning when my husband’s snoring drove me awake and away, I got it. Bad. I couldn’t move my head to the left. I mean, I could, but not without incredible pain. No amount of heating pad, massage, or muscle relaxer was working. I had to skip my workout. I still hurt a bunch. I’m really upset at this point because I haven’t been feeling well for almost a week, but it’s not a cold or the flu, because it’s milder, but still enough to make me not want to move. This is one of my fibro flares and it is so incredibly frustrating! I was so close to doing exactly what I had set out to do, following all the rules I set for myself, and my body is now saying, “Screw that.”

It’s not just the physical stuff. I finished three books last week and I should have, by now, made an entry on Jillie’s Bookshelf for each and I just can’t seem to get my thoughts together. This is one of those things that a lot of people don’t get about chronic illnesses: your best intentions are consistently compromised until you learn that the only way you’re going to accomplish your goals is to remember that they’re there when you’re ready. You have to know when and if it’s okay to set them aside in order for you to simply get yourself back to yourself. You have to wait. You have to be patient with yourself, which is the hardest thing ever.

I am most likely going to extend my challenge a few days. Maybe I just won’t count yesterday and today, or maybe I’ll just do an extra week. I definitely have to drink more water. I noticed last week that I wasn’t consuming as much. Part of that was that I didn’t feel good, but the other part was just plain laziness. I have my trusty water bottle back at my side, now. Hopefully, I feel more like myself, my inner self, sooner rather than later.

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Yoga Challenge: Day 23

Pose of the Day: Sitting Eagle

The PotD comes from the DoYou Yoga video for Day 23, a routine for easing stress in the neck and upper back. I always need this. The arms for this pose are twisted in the same way as full Eagle, but you either raise them as usual or lower your clasped hands away from you. I am so in love with this pose! It’s much easier than standing because you don’t have to focus on balance. Your upper arms, shoulders, shoulder blades. all of it gets nice and stretched. The whole workout was fantastic. If you’re looking for an easy-to-follow yoga challenge that’s not too high impact (except for the dastardly amount of Downward Dog), I highly recommend visiting the DYY website and signing up. It’s free. (And no, I’m not getting paid to say that. I also recommend getting videos from the library, since those are also free.)

I am a bit sore today–I think I over-extended a muscle–but I’ve noticed that I haven’t been in as much pain in the mornings as I used to. I’m still riddled with fibromyalgia, mind you, I haven’t gotten rid of it. However, my symptoms/flares have been occasionally eased by some of these poses I’ve been featuring. I also wonder if I’m having less painful episodes because of the yoga. Who knows?

The main thing is that I’m finding that I feel much healthier overall. Remember the McDonald’s thing last week? Well, it doesn’t just apply to McD’s, I can’t eat Hardee’s either. Well, I an,but the afterwards wasn’t pleasant at all. But I look forward to my high-protein breakfast everyday. I assume it’s high-protein, anyway; baby bella mushrooms, egg, bacon (shut up, it’s meat, it has protein), plus the greek yogurt in my smoothie. I’m actually starting to crave it at night, too. It’s funny how making one change, like a simple workout routine, makes you so much more aware of what you’re doing to yourself. It’s the butterfly effect, but you’re the one who gets to fly and feel beautiful.

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Yoga Challenge: Day 22

Pose of the Day: Double Pigeon

It just occurred to me before sitting down to type this that this is my last full week! I am seven days away from doing 30 days of yoga!! (Okay, minus those two days off per week that I gave myself. But still, YAY!) I feel incredibly accomplished, even though it’s not as much as some other people do–I have a friend doing a squat challenge and she’s at about 200 a day right now–but it feels good to be doing something. A strange side effect has been that I’ve kept the bedroom much more clean and less cluttered because I need room for my yoga mat. That’s reason enough, alone, why I should continue to do yoga as much as possible when my challenge is through.

Last night, I made myself my own Yoga/Sleep mix on my Amazon Prime, so it was a little extra fun and relaxing at the same time. I continued with some chamomile tea in my special pot. It really made the routine more attractive and it felt less like work/exercise. I looked forward to it instead of saying, “oh yeah, I have to do this now.” I was enthused. I spent a lot of time on the floor. The past few days, I’ve been focusing more on my hips and shoulders and all my favorite poses for those happen to occur prone or prostrate on the mat: Cobbler, Child, Cat-Cow, etc… Apparently, my fave positions also start with C. Cobra.

Later this week, I’m hoping to attend a regular yoga class. I was excited to do it this morning, but circumstances just wouldn’t let me do it today. The next one I’m looking at is on Thursday, so we’ll see what happens. I’m really just hoping for some fresh poses and I want to see how I fare in an hour long class when I’ve been averaging 15-20 minutes at most. We’ll see I suppose.

Namaste!

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Yoga Challenge: Days 20 & 21

Pose of the Day: Warrior II

I knew I couldn’t take the weekend off since I took my days off in the middle of the week last week. I’m proud to say that my two weekend days were actually my best days. At least 15-20 minutes both days! Saturday I took a nice hot shower, made myself comfortable, and listened to some Diana Krall (Glad Rag Doll) while I posed away. It was so relaxing. I mean, it actually helped me to fall asleep at a decent hour. Now, if only my sick hubby wouldn’t wake me up coming to bed and/or with his snoring. There was something about the smooth music-I hate new age, so it’s hard to find things that relax me like yoga is supposed to–and the great way I felt post-bathe that actually made me feel encouraged to meditate. I didn’t do it very long, maybe a minute. But I did do that thing where you cross your legs and connect your middle finger and thumb. I didn’t om out loud, but I was definitely feeling it as far as calm went.

Yesterday, Sunday, I set myself up with some Bigelow Sweet Dreams tea in a cute lil teapot I rarely use. It made my yoga feel more special. At my MFA residency, there was a certain core group that would meet at seven a.m. every morning to do yoga either on the back lawn of the hotel or in one of the conference rooms. I know that they had some great bonding moments and a tea tradition that was very special to them (the teapot gets handed down at graduation now to another member of the group). I always regretted not being a part of that group. I was invited, but I am a total night owl and was never conscious at such an hour (not in such a way that I would let other people see me). So, my experience with my own teapot felt quite precious. I even did five minutes of Savasana on the floor which I’ve said before drives me nuts. But I felt motivated to try it. It was nice, having James Taylor sing to me about love as I was lying there, breathing.

As far as my body goes, I’m not even weighing myself anymore. My sizes are all over the map depending on the clothing manufacturer and I’m pretty sure the scale I bought is on drugs anyway. The only thing that really matters is how I feel and that I like the way I look in my clothes. I’m not entirely there yet, but I’m on my way, and I’m definitely feeling much better about myself as a whole. WIN!

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Yoga Challenge: Days 18 & 19

Pose of the Day: Savasana

I did no yoga AGAIN on Day 19. Which means I have no more days off this week, so I must be sure to get it done this weekend. I’m doing far better with this challenge than with Gallon-a-Day as far as following the rules I set for myself. I get my minimum 10 minutes every day, 5 days a week and I feel good about that. I know ten minutes doesn’t seem like much–I usually go over that anyway–but I’m doing this more for the habit and calm than anything. I’m still experiencing benefits, even if they’re not drastic.
The PotD is Savasana because I finally did it. Rather than the floor, I used my bed. I fell asleep. It was gorgeous. It means I was r relaxed. It may look like I just crawled into bed, but I DID do yoga breathing and paid attention to my core while doing it. I think the point of Savasana is to be aware of your body and only your body, letting everything float away, and that’s what I did. Hence the nap. I don’t know if I’d do it again though. I know it’s some people’s favorite, but I am just not a meditative person. Forcing myself not to think and or be active is harder than yoga.

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Yoga Challenge: Day 17

Pose of the Day: Legs-Up-the-Wall

I waited until nighttime to do my yoga yesterday. I was sort of excited to do DoYou Yoga’s 6 Poses for Sleep. Other than Corpse Pose, which just feels weird to me, I did all of them. (Sorry, but I can’t just lay there on the floor, it’s incredibly uncomfortable for me and I get jittery.) I don’t know if it helped me fall asleep any faster, but my body felt better and more physically relaxed when I was done.

I spent about five minutes on Legs-Up-the-Wall. It’s supposed to be good for fibromyalgia as well, something about releasing the blood and pressure from the muscles in your legs and hips. I used a pillow for support under my hips and lower back and I must say it felt pretty good. I noticed I was holding tension in my knees trying to keep them straight against the wall, but once I noticed it, I let go and it went pretty well. I also spent some quality time in Bridge Pose. I can do over a minute now. My sciatic muscles sometimes have an opinion about that, but they were quite amenable to the idea last night. This challenge isn’t doing much in the way of weight loss or toning, but it’s damn sure increasing my physical stamina as far as holding poses goes.

I’m more conscious, as I’ve said, about the foods I’m eating. Not that I’m really trying to eat different or specific foods, but I’m preferring things I cook to food I buy out. After the McDonald’s debacle yesterday, as well as a rare lunch out with my husband, I became hyper-aware of how much less grease I use in my cooking, and god knows what else these places are using, than these restaurants whose food often comes out gleaming with some sort of oil.

Omg, I’m becoming a yoga-food hippie. I need pizza rolls, STAT!!!

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Yoga Challenge: Days 15 & 16

Pose of the Day: Cat-Cow

Yeah, I took off Day 16. No real excuse, I just never got around to it. BUt I take it as one of my two days off every week and I don’t feel guilty. Really, this post is about Day 15 and I did pretty good that day. I haven’t been sleeping well at all. Thank god for yoga. I’m able to take a nap afterwards if I do it in the morning or in the early evening. I think it relaxes me more through the breathing and soothes my muscles enough that they’re not so seized up when I’m laying down.

My favorite pose for today is Cat-Cow. This is always kind of near the top of the list for PotD. Since my back and shoulders are such an issue for me, this pose is perfect. An arch of the back with your head facing downwards and then reversing the arch into a sway while looking up. It stretches it all for me. I’ve also noticed that Downward Dog is becoming more bearable. That’s amazing. I even held a Plank for ten seconds!…ish. I’m very proud of me.

I noticed today that the eating changes I’ve been making, albeit unconsciously, have really affected me. I’ve been making my breakfasts at home lately to both save money and not rely on McDonald’s McCalories. I’ve been preparing my own breakfast sandwiches and adding mushrooms and caramelized onions. It takes about as long as it did to drive to McD’s anyway. So, this morning I decided I deserved some fat-laden yumminess. Big mistake. It doesn’t even taste the same. I was hardcore into them too. You can have my McDouble when you pry it from my cold, dead, heart-attacked hands, but for pre-yoga breakfast, I’m sticking with my homemade McMuffins and fresh smoothies. I feel so much more ready to tackle a workout when I know I’ve treated my body right with my first meal of the day.

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Yoga Challenge: Day 12-14

Pose of the Day: Pranayama

Okay, the PotD isn’t really a pose; it’s yoga breathing. Deep, in through the nose, calm, measured breathing. Realizing Friday night that I wouldn’t get around to my regularly scheduled programming, I decided to take advantage of the hot tub at the indoor waterpark where my family was enjoying themselves the night before a relative got married. (No yoga on Saturday, but I got quite the workout on the dance floor!) I spent a good 15 minutes trying to relax my body as much as possible in the lovely bubbles. The issue with pools and hot tubs is that your body tries to rise the more you relax. I found a god position that helped me stay under while taking up as little room as possible in this public arena. It felt so good. I was so relaxed. Focusing on my breathing still worked my core muscles and my arms felt heavy as I lifted them out of the water when I decided to get out and join my son and hubby in the lazy river.

I need to stop taking the weekend off. Yes, I was active on Saturday and we had a situation yesterday that required a trip to urgent care. Still, I need to stop finding excuses as to why I’m going to “do it later” or why I’m too sore/tired/etc. I’m not losing weight, may have gained some actually, and that’s another reason why I can’t tell what exactly yoga is doing for me at this point. I may have gained some muscle. My stomach feels harder… underneath the spare tire. I was hoping that after a good six weeks of water, yoga, and general betterness, I would notice at least a minor change; a better fitting shirt, a pair of pants loosening in the hips. Alas, no such luck yet.

My saving grace at this point is the fact that I feel good. Honestly, the only reason I want to lose some weight is so that I can wear some of the adorable clothes I bought around summer/fall. If I had bought them in bigger sizes, I don’t think I would care as much. I just want to be smooth around the edges, have things look the way they were intended to, no bulges or rolls, etc. I’m glad that the improvements I am experiencing are improving my mental well-being. I haven’t really been tempted to go down the depression rabbit hole since I started these challenges. I’m writing more, making lists to keep myself on task, being a more productive member of society. I’d rather have these things be my normal than a smaller waist, actually. It’s no use looking good if you can’t get out of bed, anyway.

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